Needed to Ensure Long-Term Guard Readiness
Guard has problems that affect its readiness, particularly
at home, but fixing them requires a sweeping, intergovernmental
effort, the chairman of the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves
Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Arnold Punaro told the House Armed
Services Committee many of the problems facing the Guard
boil down to
the fact that
it changed from a strategic to an operational force, but without the benefit
of other changes needed for it to succeed.
and Reserve operated as a strategic reserve during the Cold
War, intentionally kept at low manning and equipment levels
because they were considered a back-up force, he said. That’s
dramatically different from today, he noted, when the Guard
and Reserve are operational reserves, actively deploying
and supporting the war on terror.
is a fundamental change in the nature of how the Guard and
Reserve is being used,” Punaro told the committee. “However,
(the Department of Defense) has not changed any of the fundamentals — underlying
laws, policies, rules, regulations, procedures, processes,
funding priorities, personnel management systems — to
make it an operational reserve.”
those changes, he said, the operational reserve can’t
sustain itself for the long haul, and its capabilities will
continue to deteriorate.
cited other changes needed for the Guard and Reserve to operate
effectively, particularly in their ability to respond to
problem, he said, is that the agencies that would operate
together in a major domestic catastrophe don’t work
closely enough together to prepare for one.
are longstanding problems that require fundamental reforms
to a number of our institutions of government,” Punaro
said. “This is not about one individual, the chief
of the (National) Guard Bureau, not about one institution,
the National Guard. This is about empowering the National
Guard and giving them greater authority and clout as an integrated
also need more authority, because they would serve as commanders
in chief of most domestic incidents, particularly during
the first 72 hours, he said.
the National Guard and state governors would enable them
to be more effective members of a team that includes DoD,
U.S. Northern Command and the Department of Homeland Security,
these agencies and institutions of government must take greater
responsibility for building a coherent and competent interagency
process of planning, coordinating and funding for the homeland
mission,” he said.
commission originally was to report on the proposed “National
Guard Empowerment Act” that aimed to increase the authority
of National Guard leaders. Instead, the commission broadened
its report — Strengthening America’s Defenses in the New
Security Environment — to include DoD, NORTHCOM, DHS and
The broadened report will help solve problems the reserves now face, Punaro
final report, due to Congress in January, will provide a
more comprehensive look at reserve-component mobilization,
pay, employer and family support issues.